Punakha Dzong monastery in Buhtan

Digital innovation in Bhutan's news media 

Opportunity for a commencing PhD student to join MECO researchers 

In one generation Bhutan has leapfrogged from radio and word of mouth to WhatsApp and WeChat. Media capitalism and commercial advertising has never been part of the economy or social reality. As a consequence, journalists serve their communities in different, innovative ways.

This project requires a PhD student to produce the first definitive case study of Bhutan’s distinctive media landscape, specifically focusing on the production, dissemination, and consumption of news. It needs to follow the evolution of news from the 1950s with the arrival of the first radio network, to TV in 1999 and the adoption of mobile phones in 2003, to the current mass popularity of digital media such as WhatsApp and WeChat. It needs to document and analyse the distinctive ways that the media in Bhutan use digital platforms to express and reinforce their own cultural values, as well as to inform and connect the community to news, both domestically and internationally.

The student will be supervised by a team from the Discipline of Media and Communication, including: 

Dr Bunty Avieson, Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow. 

Associate Professor Tim Dwyer, Degree Director, Master of Media Practice

Dr Beate Josephi, Honorary Associate.

Bhutan’s media evolution is instructive to other countries grappling with the social and economic consequences of media disruption. The country faces the same challenges but from a different starting point, and with a distinctively different worldview that is informed by its cultural isolation, deep oral traditions and holistic development philosophy of Gross National Happiness. The ultimate aim of the project is to investigate the culturally-specific ways digital media is being adopted as a means to better understand its possibilities.

  • Excellent supervision and mentorship from a team of researchers with expertise across global media, journalism, Bhutan’s media ecosystem, and digital news platforms.

  • Opportunity to take leadership role in global Worlds of Journalism Study 

  • Support for the high-impact translation of research findings 

  • Opportunity to make a real-world impact through your research  

Applicants are invited to submit a proposal for PhD research that aligns directly to this project. 

Prospective candidates may qualify for direct entry into the PhD program if their research proposal (see above) is accepted and they satisfy at least one of the criteria listed below.

  • Bachelor's degree with first- or second-class honours in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis based on primary data not literature review

  • Master's degree by research in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis that draws on primary data 

  • Master's degree by coursework, with a research thesis or dissertation of 12,000–15,000 words that draws on primary data not literature review, with a grade-point average of at least 80 per cent in the degree.

  • Demonstrated appropriate professional experience and alternative qualifications in the field of study.

For more information regarding applying for a PhD refer to the course details for Doctor of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences).

Please also refer to guidelines for preparing a research proposal. 

A number of scholarships are available to support your studies.

Australian Government RTP Scholarship (International)

University of Sydney International Scholarship

University of Sydney Tuition Fee Scholarship


These scholarships will provide a stipend allowance of $37,207 per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

For other scholarship opportunities refer to FASS Research Scholarships (International).

For further details about the PhD project contact Dr Bunty Avieson at bunty.avieson@sydney.edu.au

Please note that these opportunities are open to International students only.